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Article - Cultural and creative industries

Cultural and Creative Industries


Spanning a wide range of different fields – from architecture and music to advertising, the cultural and creative industries are an exciting sector of business. People working across these industries include freelance artists and creative minds and art dealers, agents and gallery-owners who have set up micro-enterprises.

The cultural and creative industries are, of course, characterised by creative minds creating things. Whether they are authors or film-makers, representatives of the visual or performing arts, architects, designers or developers of computer games – all these people stand for quality, cultural diversity, and creative renewal. At the same time, they also help build a fast-growing, innovative and knowledge-based economy.

In fact, the cultural and creative industries are among the fastest-growing industries in the global economy. In order for them to remain so, the sector needs to become more competitive and innovative small cultural businesses and freelance artists need better opportunities to make money. This is why, in 2007, the Federal Government launched the Cultural and Creative Industries Initiative (in German). The initiative is coordinated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Four figures on the cultural and creative industries


billion euros
of turnover created by the sector in 2017

Symbolicon für Menschen

million people
work in the cultural and creative industries

Symbolicon für Schreibtisch

freelancers and commercial companies belong to the sector

Symbolicon für Tortendiagramm

per cent
is the share of gross domestic product generated by the sector (2017)

Sector at a glance

A creative sector with huge potential

Since the late 1980s, the cultural and creative industries have developed into one of the most dynamic sectors in the global economy. Estimates show that they added more than €102 billion to the German economy in 2017. This means that the sector outstrips key economic sectors like the chemical industry, energy suppliers and financial services.

The cultural and creative industries comprise all cultural and creative enterprises that mostly work for profit and produce and/or disseminate cultural or creative products and services. The definition does not cover companies, institutions or associations that rely on public-sector financing.

As part of its Cultural and Creative Industries Initiative, the German government publishes an annual Monitoring Report (PDF, 2MB) keeping track of the latest changes in the industry.

According to this report, in 2017, Germany’s cultural and creative industries counted over one million core workers, of whom more than 254,700 were freelancers or commercial entrepreneurs and more than 900,000 were employees subject to social-security contributions. In 2017, the number of employees subject to social-security contributions rose by an estimated 4.3%. This means that nearly 188,000 new jobs subject to the payment of social security contributions have been added to the sector since 2009. The total number of people working in the industry, including those in minor employment, was almost 1.7 million in 2017. There were a total of 254,700 companies in the cultural and creative industries, generating combined turnover of more than €158 billion.

Diagrams on cultural and creative industries

The cultural and creative industries initative

Fostering competitive and dynamic creative industries in Germany

The Cultural and Creative Industries Initiative was launched by the German government and seeks to give the sector a competitive edge and to help create even more jobs. In addition to this, innovative small cultural businesses and freelance artists are to be given better opportunities for making money.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (in German) is using the Cultural and Creative Industries Initiative to support the sector in many different ways. The government seeks to give the cultural and creative industries what it takes for them to be able to establish themselves as a distinctive sector, and to withstand competitive pressure. At the same time, the government would like to foster stronger business networks within the sector itself.

  • It has initiated a network open for all stakeholders, which is to be used to disseminate information about potential sources of funding and to support startups in the industry.
  • Beyond this, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy wants to adjust the programmes it has launched as part of its economic and technology policies to be able to provide more funding to cultural and creative businesses.
  • Freelancers and small businesses in the sector are to be given easier access to financing.
  • Cultural and creative businesses are also to gain better access to the ministry’s foreign trade promotion policies, which will make it easier for them to showcase themselves abroad.
  • The German Artists’ Social Security Fund is to be upheld and its services stabilised for the future.
  • The government also wants to adjust digital copyright law to restore the right balance between the respective rights of copyright holders and users.

The German Government’s Centre of Excellence for the Cultural and Creative Industries

Since 2016, the Federal Government’s Centre of Excellence for the Cultural and Creative Industries (in German) has been promoting cooperation between the creative industries and other sectors. The centre promotes the innovative potential of the creative industries and operates platforms for networking. Its purpose is to better highlight the importance of the cultural and creative industries as a sector of its own and as a driver of innovation.

The Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control has conducted an evaluation of the Centre of Excellence for the period 2010-2015. The Report (in German) confirms the success of the Centre’s work, highlighting not only the breadth and content of the services it offers to companies in the cultural and creative industries, but also the work of the Centre in making the sector more visible, in strengthening the sector’s professional profile, in fostering networking among cultural and creative professionals, and in enabling the range of services offered by numerous German Länder to be maintained.

Cultural and Creative Pioneers in Germany

There is enormous creative potential for the economy and society in those working in the cultural and creative industries. In order to highlight this, the Cultural and Creative Industries Initiative has established a competition in which entrepreneurs are awarded the title of cultural and creative pioneer in Germany. The title is bestowed on successful participants who want to launch a business based on a special creative or cultural idea.

German Motion Picture Fund

Promoting digital filmmaking

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy also promotes the innovative power and competitiveness of the German film industry. As part of this work, it has established the German Motion Picture Fund (GMPF).

The Federal Government uses the GMPF in order to provide funding for innovative film and serial formats with high production costs and for digital film-making in Germany. Funding has been provided for projects including ‘Berlin Station’, a spy series, the ‘Babylon Berlin’ series set in Berlin in the 1920s, and for ‘You are wanted’, the first German series produced for the Amazon Prime streaming service.

The concept underpinning this funding is to promote film-making in Germany and to give it a competitive edge over other European countries. The GMPF provides annual funding of €10 million for this work. This funding, which is provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, helps strengthen SMEs in the film industry and safeguard the quality and diversity of German films..

New funding guidelines from December 2017

In order to provide even more targeted funding to bolster Germany’s innovative capacities and competitiveness as a centre for films and series, the funding guidelines were updated on 15 December 2017 to meet the current needs of innovative digital film-making in Germany. In addition to high-end series and high-budget cinematic films, the GMPF is now also funding high-budget films which are not intended for cinematic release (i.e. video-on-demand films). Funding will also be given to VFX (visual effects) and other digital film operations. The programme is managed by the German Federal Film Board (FFA).

Click here for a list of all the projects that have received funding so far, and for accessing the relevant guidelines and forms.

Museum Brandhorst depicted to symbolise the cultural and creative industries; Quelle: